A Fat, Queer Person’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Cis-heterosexual people ruin everything. Want proof? Let’s journey back to the inception of humankind, when God produced Adam and Eve with his bored breath. It didn’t take the lovely couple long before they started growing uninterested with each other. That’s when they began consorting with a garden snake who encouraged them to do the exact opposite of God’s most basic request: “Do not eat from the tree of knowledge.”

Well, they ate the fruit and fucked up the world. Now, instead of being nude and carefree in a warm garden, I’m rushing to work every morning and bitterly stuffing clothing I’ve outgrown into trash bags.  

There’s a long list of things cis-heterosexual people have ruined for me; holidays rank number one. Every Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, my distant relatives come out in droves to badger me about my sexuality. It’s as though someone spiked their eggnog with a splash of toxic masculinity, a dash of blissful ignorance, and eight shots of anti-queerness.

I’ll never get used to my younger cousins asking me, “Why do you act like a girl?” I’ll never get used to my male cousins and uncles thoughtlessly accusing me of identifying as transgender because I don’t follow sports. I’ll never get used to my aunts harassing me about having children, reprimanding me for trying to “end the family line.”

This past Thanksgiving was different: I survived the holiday without my anti-queer relatives interrogating me about my sexuality. Instead, they wanted me to explain my new body to them. They wanted me to explain why I could no longer fit into a medium-sized shirt. They wanted me to explain how and why I allowed myself to gain so much weight. My new, fat body distracted my relatives from asking invasive questions about my sexual identity.

“How did you get so damn fat?” one of my burliest aunts questioned.

I smirked and replied, “By eating and never exercising.” I choked back what I really wanted to say, grateful that my relatives found something other than my sexuality to discuss over turkey.

I survived Thanksgiving without having to over-explain my queerness. However, I’m sure that my shocking transformation won’t distract them from questioning my sexual identity a second time. And I’m sure that my homophobic relatives — none of them svelte themselves — are going to continue attacking my fatness.

Anticipating the simultaneous attacks on my body and queerness, I searched the internet for a holiday survival guide for fat, queer people. I found nothing, so I decided to make one for myself. So, here’s a quick guide for surviving the holidays as a fat queer person:

1. Channel the confidence of Tiffany “New York” Pollard

Sometimes, all we have to do is change our attitude. Who has more attitude than Tiffany “New York” Pollard? Are you really queer if you don’t receive a surge of confidence and become super confrontational after watching New York’s best moments on YouTube?

When people pointed out New York’s obvious weight gain on Flavor of Love’s first season, she replied by saying, “And I look fabulous. I look better than you making your exit right now.”

I’m not suggesting that one becomes irate at the dinner table when someone makes an insensitive comment or query about one’s queerness or weight — I’m saying that absorbing some of the confidence New York exudes throughout the show couldn’t hurt.

2. Echo their ignorance with class

I’m sarcastic by nature. So, whenever someone says something stupid, I feel the need to say something stupider. When someone says something rude, I say something even ruder. However, I’m black — I’m never too old for my mother to slap the shit out of me for embarrassing her. Family dinners are not the correct forum to express your disdain towards your ignorant family members.

You can have great clap backs to mirror their ignorant comments, but you have to keep it cute.

This past Thanksgiving, my least favorite aunt stares at me with disgust fixed on her wrinkled face. “You’re going to be the turkey next year if you keep gaining weight,” she says. I had at least twelve things I could have said about her weight, wig, or outfit — but I’m better than that, at least when there’s a buffet of food in front of me.
I chuckled at her bad joke, then said, “Well hopefully, you won’t try to cook me.” She smiled, assuming that I was gleefully playing along with her body-shaming Thanksgiving pun. But truthfully, I was taking a jab at how her turkey always tastes like a cheap condom. She can’t cook. I didn’t have to say that candidly and embarrass my mother. I said what was on my mind without actually saying it.

Whether or not your ignorant relatives catch on to your shade is immaterial; you’re throwing shade for you, not for them.  

3. Be honest with yourself and your family members

I’ve seen enough RuPaul’s Drag Race to know that not every queer person can throw shade. That being said, it’s time to move on to plan B: digging deep into our own emotions and being able to communicate when something (or someone) is making us feel uncomfortable.

In the past, I have told my relatives that they are making me feel uncomfortable. Three Thanksgivings ago, one of my aunts began interrogating me about my sex life, questioning whether or not I grew my beard out to tickle a woman’s vagina if I went down on her. I raised my eyebrow and said, “Auntie, please stop. I don’t feel comfortable talking about that.” Luckily, she understood; if she didn’t, I would have stood up and abandoned the table. If the food is delicious, you should take it with you!

4. Stand in Your Fatness and Queerness

I came out to my family more than once before the holidays. That doesn’t stop them from asking me why I’m not in a hetero relationship. My relatives have seen my large body more than once before the holidays. That doesn’t stop them from asking me why I haven’t tried different diets and workout plans.

Ask yourselves, why don’t you ask your uncles why they don’t have wives? Why don’t you ask your aunts why there’s always a roach crawling up their walls? Why don’t you ask your younger cousins why they repeated the second grade more than once? There are three good answers. One: You don’t want to be rude. Two: You don’t care enough. Three: Because they own their fucked-up characteristics; this includes their ability to destroy the holidays.

Nothing is wrong with being fat and queer. Internalize that, and your relatives are least likely to badger you about your sexuality and weight.

5. Combat uncomfortable questions with uncomfortable questions

Unless you were homeschooled, one of your classmates have likely asked, “Are you gay? Does your mother know you’re gay?” Naturally, you will say “no.” That’s when your classmate will point their finger at you and laugh. You admitted that you’re gay and your mother has no clue.

I’m a victim. You’re probably a victim of this, too. That said, one important lesson I have learned is that not every question can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” Uncomfortable questions should be answered with uncomfortable questions.

If your uncles ask why you don’t have a girlfriend, ask him why he’s not married. If your little cousins ask why you talk like a girl, ask them why they talk like the opposite of their sex. If your aunts ask when you’re going to find your soulmate and bring them to the family dinner, ask them when they’re going to find theirs—this is especially funny when they’re already married.

6. Give them TMI.

Luckily, my mother is my biggest ally, and this was actually her recommendation. She said, “Remember that time I went in your closet and your fleshlight fell on me? Notice how I never dug in your closet again? When someone is looking for something and they find the wrong thing, they never go looking again.”

When your cis-heterosexual relatives badger you about your sexuality or sex life, they’re not really interested; they’re only interested in making you feel uncomfortable. So, you should make them feel uncomfortable, too.

I’ve practiced this in the mirror already. When my aunts or uncles ask, “Why are you so fat now?” I’m going to give them an over the top answer. “Well, aunt/uncle… I stopped having sex every day, so I lost my only source of exercise.” And if they ask about my sexual orientation, I’ll respond with another over the top answer: “I just love the warmth of buttholes. What about you auntie/uncle?”

Who’s going to ask a follow-up question after that? No one.

7. CHANGE THE FUCKING SUBJECT.

If you’re too much of a pussy to do number 6, this is equally as powerful: change the subject. Once you feel like your relatives are going to start questioning you about your sex life or your weight, start talking about something else. Lead the discussion, take it somewhere that won’t make you feel uncomfortable. Talk about how nice the house looks, how good the turkey tastes, or discuss your New Year’s Resolution.

8. Pretend like you’re in pain

At work, there’s an extremely annoying security guard. When I say annoying, I don’t mean SpongeBob Squarepants annoying (cute annoying), I mean bedbug annoying. No matter how many the exterminator kills, there’s always another one. Even after throwing away all your furniture, they’re somewhere in the small cracks of your home ready to bite the shit out of you.

This guard can’t read social cues. If you walk away from her, she will follow you. If you pick up your phone attempting to avoid a conversation, she will ask you who you’re on the phone with. No matter how happy you are, she can ruin your day. Like I said before: cis-heterosexual people ruin everything.

I learned a simple life-hack that keeps her from annoying me: I pretend like I’m in immense pain. No one’s going to bother someone if they believe that they’re suffering. Try this during your holiday dinners. If your homophobic/body-shaming relatives have an inch of humanity in them, they’ll leave you alone.

9. Lean on your other fat and queer friends

The best part of being fat and queer is that you’re a part of two different communities. Somewhere out there, there’s a group chat specifically for fat people. Similarly, there is a group chat specifically for queer people. Once you find them, you will see that your situation is no different from theirs. Take out your phone and laugh about how ignorant your family members are.

10. Become a vegan Satanist

This lengthy guide has some gems, but contrary to popular belief: no gem is flawless. If all else fails, this one thing will save your holiday. I will stake my life on it.

Go vegan and begin worshipping the devil. No one’s going to question your sexuality if you randomly say “Praise Satan, auntie! You brought a vegan casserole!” They’re going to raise their eyebrow in shock. They’ll probably shift their concern to your religious views, but that’s better than being sexually harassed by your family members, right?

They’ll probably even stop inviting you to their family dinners.

Image via Getty


Arkee E.

Arkee E. is a writer based in the Bronx.

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